Misconceptions About Africa and Staying at Ethiopia’s Haile Resort

Haile Resort
One of the biggest misconceptions about Africa is that everyone lives in dire poverty and everyone is in need of charitable help. This just isn’t the case. It’s like when people honestly believe all Americans live in Hollywood because that’s all they see on TV and in the movies. We know how painfully wrong that is!

When I was in Nairobi a few years ago, I talked with a few Kenyan bloggers who thought all American women act like the “real housewives”. They were utterly shocked by how much their perception of American women was completely false. In that same vein, the more I travel to the continent the more I get it. Yes, there are millions upon millions of lives that need to be saved every day in Africa, but there is also a robust community of millions upon millions of Africans who live like we live, surf the Web, own mobile phones, and go on holiday to Europe. Africa is a big continent with a diversity of people. That’s one of the primary reasons Obama was in Africa. Everyone knows Africa’s rising!

When I travel abroad I have always grappled with the idea of staying in relatively nice hotels as I report on poverty and the injustices that poverty spawns. The guilt used to be insufferable, but I have since realized that as a visitor to a foreign country there is absolutely no point in roughing it. For one, I need access to reliable Wi-Fi in order to log stories and share my observations and discoveries when I am abroad. More importantly nice hotels give you the safety and security you need while traveling. Safety is vital, especially when you’re traveling to a developing country as a westerner.

Unfortunately, it is new to some that Africa has really nice hotels and resorts and shopping as well. They offer anything you would find in New York or London save the occasional black outs so much of the developing world experiences.

Last year while in Ethiopia I loved staying at the Haile Resort located on pristine Lake Hawassa. When staying at the Haile Resort I was able to write many articles about the amazing frontline health care workers I met in Addis Ababa  and Hawassa.  The views were gorgeous, yes, but being able to work and meet my deadlines was worth every bit of staying at a great hotel – guilt free.

Below are a few photos and observations of the Haile Resort from last year. You never know, you may be in Ethiopia and will need a wonderful place to lay your head and relax. Africa is a special place to visit, to be sure. My upcoming trip to Zambia is approaching faster than I thought. I can’t wait to see another African country.

Lobby - Haile Resort

This is the lobby on my floor. The showstopper? Lake Hawassa, a gorgeous, shimmering body of fresh water located in Africa’s Rift Valley that provides a home to wildlife from hippos to African waterfowl!

Lake Awassa

Nature in Africa is bigger, more expansive and more beautiful than most places you’ll ever visit in the world. Africa is really majestic! No two places are the same and around every corner in every country its sheer beauty will shock your senses and implore you to faithfully vow to come back time and time again.

A stay at the Haile Resort will force you to take a moment or two to actually relax even if you have a ton of work to do! Without any Internet in its rooms (only available in the lobby) and the understanding that hopping on your phone’s data plan will eventually cost you an arm and a leg and two fingers you’ll probably opt to enjoy what the resort offers from wonderful views of the lake to amazing ice-cold glasses of St. George beer, Ethiopia’s oldest beer, on tap.

Haile Resort

Haile Resort

Haile Resort

Ethiopia is the first country I visited where I could really see myself living or at least staying for a few months. Addis Ababa is an amazing city as was Hawassa. I hope to have more work that will take me there.


  1. This may be a strange question but, how does the air smell? I look at your pictures and it makes me take a deep breath.


  2. Great photos! I had a great conversation with a few African bloggers at Blogher ’12 in NYC about this very same subject. There are so many misconceptions out there!


  3. […] Jennifer James – If you don’t know Jennifer, you need to. She’s a true leader in our world and the founder of Mom Bloggers Club. She’s spent the past few years traveling the world with the Gates Foundation promoting Social Moms for Social Good. I am SO blessed to have her as a friend and here in my hometown. Sadly for me, she’s usually traveling the world, so we don’t get to have coffee as often as I like! […]


  4. Looks like a beautiful resort! Tell us more about the surrounding area. Were there many Americans or Europeans on vacation there? #curious


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